In the fields of Banawor, the windbeasts are dying. Dying beneath the curse of the word. They fall down into empty paddies where they breathe out their last, where magic that woke them dissolves and returns to the world of the unseen.
Patriarch ships cast their shadows over the fields. There will be no escape, not this time. Their leader has been captured, her heir expelled and they, the garda, Banawor’s last hope lie lost and bleeding.
It should have been the season of planting, Aginaya thinks. But that season has now turned into one of dying. She refuses to close her eyes as the new masters traverse the fields. She does not flinch when the windbeasts cry.
Ah gods, she sends her thought out to the peripheries and she feels bitter regret.
Forgive me, La Madrid, she prays. If you curse me now and see this exile as treachery, know that I only do it because of the love I have for you.
The cries of her garda grow fainter now. Banawor’s slopes are running red, the windbeasts are gone, the new masters have won and the last of their magic is locked within the one she will never again see.
Are you ready now? Her captor says.
She looks up at the big man. Looks up into eyes that are cold and clear and empty of feeling.
I am ready, she says.
His hand is heavy on her shoulder and walking brings her pain, but she walks. She walks past the row of maidens, past the row of young men, past the row of those who have been assembled.